When Hurricane Sandy unleashed its wrath on the Eastern Seaboard last October, designer Joe Doucet’s lower Manhattan studio and apartment were left relatively unscathed. “Apart from being without power for a week or so, we really were very fortunate,” he says.
Jean Lin and Jennifer Krichels of Reclaim NYC organized an auction dedicated to relief efforts shortly after the storm, and reached out to Doucet to contribute. “We are a fairly tight-knit design community in NYC and everyone was happy to have been given a task that would allow them to help in some way,” Doucet says. “I think most of us felt a strong urge to do something, but without focusing those efforts, the impact made would have most likely not been felt.” He made a series of nine crumpled, cast-acrylic bottles called Water, Water, reflecting on the tension between the liquid as a cause of destruction but also as a post-Sandy survival necessity.
For the second auction, held during the city’s recent design week, Doucet wanted to draw attention to the fact that while the tragedy wasn’t still making headlines, the aftermath was still being felt. Despite its poignant origins, Doucet approached the project concept first, per his studio’s standard. “I began in the same way I approach a chair, a game, a fragrance, or a building,” he says. “What am I trying to say with the project? What should someone feel when he or she sees or interacts with it? That is always the genesis of our work. Besides, I can’t sketch worth a damn.”
It was important that the piece had some emotional heft, but it also had to be livable–a delicate never-forget. In the end, the idea of partial submersion seemed appropriate and impactful, subtle but powerful. “Most of the time was spent trying to achieve an effect of refraction from the bottom blue portion of the mirror.”
The Fathom Mirror was a one-off, and despite being asked a “flattering number of times” whether it might be put into larger production, Doucet has no plans to duplicate it. Fingers crossed that he won’t have a reason to.